Plots and Thoughts

Letters to God – A Christian Insult

Posted in Art, Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on February 24, 2010

Billed as a Christian movie, the trailer reaches down and touches something primal with me.

“Hope is Contagious” is the tagline.  Hope?  HOPE? I’m sorry, does the 8 year old live and beat his cancer?  Does God get the fuck off his cloud and decide to spare a young child a slow and torturous death as his own body kills him from within?

No of course not.

Instead we’ll be treated to wooden acting and empty assurances that the big guy is up there looking after us and deserves our faith.  Of course he does.  Nothing says “holy” like a being that let’s children suffer and die.

Disagree?  Go ahead.  Respond.  I triple fucking dog dare you.  What are you going to say?

  • We don’t know God’s plan.
  • There’s a heaven so its all good.
  • We are the sinners and cannot judge God.

Let me beat each of those sorry ass excuses into the sludge from which they spring.

We don’t know God’s plan

An argument from ignorance?  Fan-fucking-tastic.  What possible plan could he have that involves doing things we would never do?  Humans aren’t supposed to be morally superior to the supreme being, but here I am right now, not murdering and torturing people with cancer.  But hey maybe God wasn’t smart enough to figure out a way to “test” us without torturing some kids to death.  By the way, can you conceive of a “test” that is worth this level of suffering?  Oh you still believe even though God took away your loved one?  Great.  Here’s an A+ and a sticker.  Tell you what, you keep your stellar grades, I’m off to find a teacher who isn’t a psychotic violent prick.

There’s a heaven so its all good

Ends justify the means huh?  So if I slice open your arm, then teach you how to sew it back up, that’s ok right?  I’m teaching you!  Or if I punch you until you are wobbling from a concussion, only to attack you further.  But if I’m teaching you how to fight, that’s ethical right?  If getting to heaven is so fucking amazing, then why don’t we just kill everyone at birth when they are still innocent?  After all, we are such sinful creatures in the eyes of a Christian fundamentalist.

This is grade A bullshit.  Not only do we instinctively reject the notion that “by any means necessary” is ethically valid, we would never engage in such behavior ourselves.  Once again we are more ethical than God.

We are the sinners and cannot judge God

Of course we can.  A thief in the dirt can still judge a murderer on a mountain top.  Even if one accepts the ridiculous notion of original sin, and lives by the backwards moral code that reduces harmless urges to sins and considers harmful actions and bigotry righteous – one can still recognize the sin in causing others to suffer.

Gah, were does this leave us?

I can say where it leaves me.  I oscillate  between belief in God and atheism.  It is hard to reconcile the quantity and quality of suffering in the world with an all knowing, all powerful, all loving being.  Manipulative dreck like this  does nothing to deal with the very serious and important questions that arise from contemplation of suffering.  All it does is seek to score abominable street cred by pretending God only exists in the efforts of people to come together and deal with suffering compassionately and bravely.  God is also responsible for that suffering – a biblical nod to Stockholm Syndrome perhaps.

This movie is insulting to Christians as well.  There is a long and proud history of Christians attempting to deal seriously with the Problem of Evil.  It isn’t a subject to exploit for evangelical purposes.  It is a topic one must either approach with the humility necessary to honor those who feel evil’s effect directly, or with the humor necessary to keep sane those who battle it constantly.  To treat it with faux seriousness in order to convert the vulnerable and naive is contempt worthy.

A movie like this deserves only one thing – to be utterly destroyed on Pajiba.  I’m crossing my fingers.

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Things You Are Missing: Movie Mash!

Posted in Art by Captain Optimistic on December 29, 2009

Are you reading Movie Masher?  The answer is no, he gets no page views EVER.  Which is highly toxic to your art devouring needs.  Oh sure, there’s the polished hatred of Pajiba (their live reviews of straight to dvd releases are nourishing in a deep and secret place).  But the Masher of Movies has some epic up his sleeves coupled with the same sharpness of wit and observational acumen one might expect from a movie review website with readers.  (Hahaha OUCH).

Anyway, his review of Avatar provides a grand jumping in point.  Its more than just dances with smurfs.  But it offers a chance to note this about our current culture:

The same storytelling plots and archetypes have been used and expanded upon for thousands of years. But does it matter that every story has been told or written if the current generation has never bothered to hear or read them?

With that all the bellyaching about our “childhood icons” like transformers and my little pony being made into feature films crumble into dust.  (Why yes there are My Little Pony movies (that’s PLURAL bitches).  The latest is called Twinkle Wish Adventure.  Try peppering that into a first date conversation.  “Oh yeah, my favorite movies?  Amelie, Trainspotting, Evil Dead 2, Twinkle Wish Adventure, you?”).  As if anyone has the cultural awareness to delve that far into the past, nevermind into truly classic literature.  Like, AS IF.

James Cameron does not seem to have anything intentionally sophisticated to say. Most of Cameron’s directorial work amounts to family action-adventure, with 1-D caricature villains and cutting-edge high-budget visual effects. It worked best in Aliens, but became more obvious with each subsequent outing that he was the poor man’s Ridley Scott.

Hilarious, spot on, though I do have reservations about considering Aliens a family action-adventure.  Its more of a family dramedy.

Real-life 1-D people may find the movie and characters offensive (and so they are, if perceived as a literal reflection of real 3-D modern society)

If only Mr Masher, if only.  They enjoyed it!

Traditional science fiction, as I’ve said before, seems almost obsolete

That’s because traditional science fiction is crap.  How many times can we see the same message before it gets a bit odd?  (Though one might think of Avatar’s message as being radically in favor of social networking and file sharing so long as its done through nerve endings exposed in your hair-stalk).

Here Avatar’s social commentaries are so overt and blatant they honestly can do no more than charm the reasonably mature viewer.

In isolaton, yes.  But the whole package is exciting enough that even blatant commentary goes down smoothly.  As we acclimate to ever more expressive and impressive technology in entertainment, it will require more to get us to accept less.

For me it wasn’t so much how overt Avatar was, as how clumsily overt.  I’d say more but, you know, SPOILERS.

Anyway, do go have a read over at Movie Masher.

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